Archive of films Badlands / Badlands

1973, 90 min

Section: New Hollywood
Year: 2007

Terrence Malick debuted with this philosophical road movie, the hero of which - 25-year-old rubbish collector Kit - shoots his 15-year-old girlfriend’s father in cold blood. The lovers then set out on a journey across the diverse “badlands” with their ever new and beautiful sunsets – and tediously dangerous people whom Kit will have to kill.


25-year old rubbish collector Kit has no idea what to do with his ambitions – and the naive single-mindedness of 15-year-old Holly gives shape to his dreams. Because the girl’s father has no understanding for Kit’s love, the young man shoots him. The lovers then set out on a journey that seems less an escape from justice than a trek across the sundry “badlands” with their ever new and beautiful sunsets – and tediously dangerous people whom Kit will have to kill. Malick’s “Bonnie and Clyde for the dispossessed 1970s” is inspired by a true story from 1958, though he takes the liberty of making a subtle parallel with the Korean War and the Vietnam conflict. Without sentiment or condemnation, the story infers that the frightful absurdity of the protagonists’ behaviour comes not from “bad” society, but rather from nature itself. The conflict between the desire to run away and to come forward is materialised through Kit’s identification with the outdated model of James Dean’s "Rebel Without a Cause". Thus, in the end, justice does not win over crime, but authentic living over unauthentic... Terrence Malick’s debut introduces his philosophical style of directing: the captivating, cold-blooded and progressively developing scenes rely on the truly alluring landscapes and impressive score.

About the director

Terrence Malick (b. 1943, Waco, Texas) grew up and worked on a farm and studied philosophy at Harvard and Oxford – two poles that set the boundaries for his perception of the world as a filmmaker. Badlands (1973 - Golden Shell at the San Sebastian IFF) is one of the most acclaimed debuts in the history of American post-war cinematography. He built up his cult status with his next film Days of Heaven (1978 – Best Director Award at the Cannes film Festival, 1979, Donatello’s David for screenplay, 1979) and particularly by not making another film for 20 years. In the meantime, he worked occasionally as a producer and even rejected an offer to direct The Elephant Man, among other films, an offer which was taken up in 1980 by David Lynch. He returned to directing with the extraordinary war drama The Thin Red Line (1998 – Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, 1999) and a poetic evocation of the historical tale of Pocahontas in The New World (2005).


Hollywood Classics
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United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 517 7525

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: New Hollywood
Director: Terrence Malick
Screenplay: Terrence Malick
Dir. of Photography: Brian Probyn, Tak Fujimoto, Stevan Larner
Music: George Tipton
Editor: Robert Estrin
Producer: Terrence Malick, Jill Jakes, Lou Stroller
Production: Badlands Company, Pressman-Williams
Cast: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates, Ramon Bieri, Alan Vint, Garry Littlejohn
Contact: Hollywood Classics

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